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State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v Fry and Geico General Insurance Company; (COA-UNP, 9/30/2003, RB #2405)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 240645; Unpublished
Judges Smolenski, Murphy, and Wilder; unanimous; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not applicable, Link to Opinion


STATUTORY INDEXING:  
Exception for Motorcycle Injuries [3114(5)]

TOPICAL INDEXING: 
Not applicable


CASE SUMMARY: 
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals interpreted the provisions of section 3114(5) with respect to the entitlement of a motorcyclist to collect PIP benefits if he is injured in an accident where a motor vehicle is “involved in the accident.”

In this case, Paul Cass was traveling southbound on M-76 on a motorcycle following a van. The van operator activated her left turn signal and slowed her van in order to make a left turn. Paul Cass, through inattentiveness, did not observe the slowing van, and swerved to avoid the van. He struck a fellow southbound motorcyclist, and then hit the rear of the van, and then crossed into the northbound traffic, striking a northbound cyclist, plaintiff John Fry. Fry’s automobile insurer paid PIP benefits, and then sought to recoup those benefits from Gieco, the insurer of the van, based upon the ground that the van was involved in the accident within the meaning of section 3114(5).

In finding that the van was indeed involved in the accident, the Court of Appeals relied upon the recent decision in Amy v MIC General Insurance Corporation [RB #2398], in which the Court of Appeals set forth an in-depth review of past cases interpreting the phrase “involved in the accident” and announced several general principles to be used when assessing whether a motorist was involved in the accident.

Pertinent to its analysis, the Court of Appeals determined that there is coverage pursuant to the following principle announced in the Amy, supra decision:

“(1) If the motor vehicle was moving at the time of the accident, a vehicle that actively contributes to either the accident or injuries is involved in the accident.”

The Court of Appeals held that the van was involved in the accident. The accident was caused by a combination of the van slowing down and Cass’ inattentiveness, resulting in Fry’s injuries. The action of the van slowing down directly caused Cass to swerve to avoid hitting the van. The determination of whether the van was involved in the accident does not hinge on whether hitting the van directly caused Cass to veer into oncoming traffic and hit Fry. The motor vehicle need not be the proximate cause of the accident. The chain of events that resulted in Fry’s injuries was already set in motion when the van decelerated.

Accordingly, summary disposition in favor of plaintiff State Farm was affirmed.


Lansing car accident lawyer Stephen Sinas is the lead editor of the appellate case summaries published on this site regarding the Michigan auto insurance law. To learn more about how Stephen Sinas and how the Sinas Dramis Law Firm can help you if you have been injured in a Michigan auto accident, visit SinasDramis.com.

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